A Travellerspoint blog

Lesotho – Mis-Adventures in the Mountain Kingdom

rain -2 °C
View African Dreams - Football, Voodoo and Music on Kristi D's travel map.

A lot of people were discouraging when they heard we were going to Lesotho. "There's nothing to see there", "The South African side of the mountains are much more beautiful", "It's so poor", etc.

And really, Lesotho itself seemed to discorage us from visiting – it presented us with a huge pothole that blew one of our tires within our first half hour in the country. Unable to fix the tire in Lesotho, we returned to South Africa to get a new tire, and so crossed the South Africa/Lesotho border three times in one day.


We barely made it to a guesthouse before sunset, and slept in a mudmade rondavel hut in a tiny village. The only thing going on in that place was a football match between the local boys, and a store that only sold canned beans, crackers and cigarettes.



The next morning it was raining hard. But when the rain subsided, we continued up the mountains. I was set on making it to the highlands, the part of Lesotho that is supposed to be the most dramatically beatiful.

Eduardo swore. The whole way. Those roads are not for sissies. It was like driving on a roller-coaster ride, the hills are just as steep, and the curves just as sharp. Me, in the passenger seat, held my breath and hoped the brakes would not fail.


On one of those sharp and steep curves, a tanker had broken down, the cargo too heavy for the truck to pull. And it was just as impossible for the driver to back up, so he was stuck there. For hours. Maybe forever.

When it started to snow, we decided to give up. No matter how fantastically beautiful these mountains were, and how cool all the people were, it wasn't meant to be this time.


Posted by Kristi D 03:28 Archived in Lesotho Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

The Golden Hills of Free State and Kwazulu-Natal

sunny 9 °C
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Somewhat by mistake, we discovered what may be the most beautiful part of South Africa – the golden hills that lie in the 400 km stretch between Swaziland and Lesotho.


Reminiscent of Arizona, these mountains carved out by ancient tidal waters glow in a spectrum of oranges and yellows. It made us feel like we'd been dropped off in a middle of a cowboy movie set, and that Clint Eastwood will be coming riding round the next mountain.



Close to the Lesotho border, we stopped at Clarens, an artsy village that serves as a weekend retreat for the affluent people of KwaZulu-Natal. The streets of this bohemian haven are bordered with art galleries, restaurants and ecological food shops.


Eduardo and I took a rest here and stayed in a hippy backpackers' inn, where we had our own little house, with kitchen and all. Freezing cold, but pleasant with a fireplace that kept us alive throughout the night.

One day Eduardo went out jogging, and came home with two kids from the nearby township (where the poor people live, like the projects in NYC). A whole swarm of kids had ran with him for a while, but these two were the only ones who made it all the way, barefoot over sharp pebbles. The reward – juice and cookies at the Duarte's.


Posted by Kristi D 03:27 Archived in South Africa Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

The Swaziland Football Team

Unfortunately they did not qualify to the World Cup 2010

sunny 12 °C
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Posted by Kristi D 09:10 Archived in Swaziland Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Land of Helpful Policemen – Swaziland

sunny 14 °C
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Here's to wishing the NYPD would be sent on a charm-course to Swaziland (or South Africa) to learn how to be helpful, courteous and friendly.

We had stopped at a street in Manzini, looking at our guidebook and wondering where we should stay the night. We had already driven past a few guesthouses, but all of them were too expensive for our budget. The last resort was to go with Lonely Planet's recommendation, but we didn't know the address.

“Can I help you?” a policeman asked, as he crossed the street to speak to us. Being used to NYC policemen, we immediately thought we were in trouble.
“We're looking for the Myxo Backpackers, but there's no address,” we replied, hesitantly.
The policeman grabbed the Lonely Planet guidebook, called the number listed, spoke to the guy that owns the hostel, and gave us very, very detailed directions. He even ran out of minutes on his phone, so eager was he to help us.

In the end we didn't end up staying at Myxo's, but found a better place just up the road. But it's cool to be reminded of how policemen used to be like, and how they should be. And given the same thing happened in Nelspruit, we know this was not a one-off incident. Police here are actually nice.


Posted by Kristi D 09:07 Archived in Swaziland Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

The Life of a Swazi (Is it!)

sunny 15 °C

On the road from Kruger to Manzini, just after crossing the border at Mananga, and after taking a wrong turn at Sikkhoya, we picked up a passenger.

Now, we all know that you're not supposed to pick up hitchhikers, but sometimes it just happens. And so far on this trip it has been good decisions.

Musa, our new friend, spoke in capital letters. In every sentence, one word was emphasized. He spoke of the Swazi king, who closed ALL the mines, and therefore there was NO money for the Swazis. In Swaziland there were several RICH mines, for gold, metals, diamonds, but the king closed them down to preserve the riches for FUTURE generations. But there is a mine where they left a BIG, BIG hole, that you can still go and see. And each reply was either a questioning “Is it?”, or a confirming “Is it!”

Musa was great. He had just taken a bus to South Africa to give more money to his 18-year old wife, because she had decided to stay there a bit longer with her 10-month baby. He, himself, was 38. When asked about polygamy which is common in Swaziland, he was strongly opposed to it. Because you can only love one person (you gotta love this guy, right?)

Because he had taken the wrong bus and ended up in Sikkhoya by mistake, he offered to pay us the 40 Emalangeni the ticket would have cost. Eduardo said the fare is 70 Emalangeni, that the extra is for making him laugh. It took a minute for Musa to get the joke.

However, the most interesting thing about him was that in the three years he had been married, he had only had sex with his wife three times. When asked why, he said “because we love each other”. Eduardo and I weren't sure if it was because he is religious (goes to church every Sunday, likes gospel music, doesn't drink), or because he might be HIV positive, like 30% of the Swazi population.

But, as Eduardo said, you've got to respect that.

The Musa offered us to stay in his house for free (which we politely declined), and said he will never forget us.



Posted by Kristi D 09:03 Archived in South Africa Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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